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URL Media Weekly
Friday, January 21, 2022
On January 25th, URL Media marks one year since our founding. We invite you to celebrate with us and watch highlights from URL Media's inaugural year; here we reflect on some of the deeply impactful reporting from our partners and share how we will continue to shake up the media landscape in 2022!
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 URL Media Turns One 

Hello, Friends:

It’s. Been. A. Year. 

URL Media announced itself to the world on Jan. 25, 2021. It was days after the inauguration of President Biden, and we feared the closure of one chapter of ugly American history might mean the resumption of business as usual. So as we said then, the next four years cannot look like the last four—or 400. 

Join us Tuesday to celebrate our anniversary. Details follow this look back on our past year: 

The idea for URL Media was born out of a desire to uplift the vital work that outlets like WURD Radio and the Haitian Times had been doing for decades – journalism in service of community. There were also the startups among us, livestream channels like TBN24 with millions of viewers or newsletters like Epicenter and Documented centering the real New York. All told, eight outlets took a massive leap of faith on our idea and we are forever grateful to them. A ninth, Sahan Journal, joined soon after. Our inaugural members include: Documented, Scalawag, TBN24, Epicenter NYC, WURD Radio, palabra., The Haitian Times and Scrollstack.

Our premise remains simple: Band together to share content and revenue. We incorporated as a for-profit company with an eye toward building wealth creation to be impactful—and powerful, really—in a capitalist world. 

We relied on the generosity of funders to get started, the International Women’s Media Foundation, Archewell, the Center for Cooperative Media, Democracy Fund, Knight-Lenfest Local Media Transformation Fund and the Knight Foundation, among them. We also benefited from amazing pro bono legal services from Ballard Spahr in Philly and the Cornell Law School First Amendment Center, along with informal advice and guidance from many brilliant business minds in the industry. Thank you, all. 

Some milestones of our first year: 

  • We launched a channel on Apple News for URL Media and our members. 

  • We developed a monthly roundtable on “The Laura Flanders Show, “ which runs on hundreds of PBS stations across the country, called “Meet the BIPOC Press.” Check us out on YouTube

  • We shared revenues from an advertising deal and the Archewell grant (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s charity) with our partners. 

  • We amplified the great work of our partners through media such as CBS, CNN, NPR, NBC, WHYY, WNYC, Reasons to Be Cheerful and many more.

  • We hired and shared a freelancer to cover New York City’s crowded primary, with a record number of candidates of color running.  

  • We took WURD’s Lively-HOOD initiative on jobs and the economy national, supporting pieces on wage theft, Haitian entrepreneurs and struggling artists. 

  • We hosted a livestream on what women of color want the world to know. 

  • As co-founders, we sat on literally dozens of panels on the future of media, diversity, equity & inclusion, and the (fragile) state of democracy. 

  • We identified an urgent need in the marketplace for recruiting, executive placement and coaching, working with more than a dozen newsrooms to place more than 25 candidates in media or media-adjacent roles, including multiple editors in chief and executives. This B2B arm is a thriving part of our business. 

  • We hired independent contractors (focusing on BIPOC talent and vendors) and made our first full-time hire, a VP of sales and sponsorship, and an operations manager

  • We decided to cover 100% of employee health insurance in an effort to center self-care and the health of our Black and Brown communities. 

  • Importantly, we grew this newsletter to a weekly cadence! Thank you for being here!

What we need from you in 2022:

  • Let’s keep growing this newsletter and our social accounts, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Help us by forwarding this email, encouraging others to subscribe here

  • We also hope to land more advertising and sponsorship deals. Interested or have a lead? Email melanie@url-media.com.

  • We have an ambitious plan to cover the midterm elections. Want to learn more or help us find funding? Email us at hello@url-media.com

  • Spread the word on doing business with us. We help organizations, big and small, diversify their workplaces. Importantly, we help talented candidates of color decode the path into leadership and opportunity, affirming their excellence along the way. 

Please join us to celebrate our anniversary and look ahead to the most pressing issues of 2022 and the future of Black and Brown media. We’ll be livestreaming and simulcasting on WURD Tuesday, Jan. 25 from 4:30-5:30 pm EST (and tune in for a big announcement on our next partner!). 

We are inspired and guided by our partner organizations and their service to our communities. We both run our own news organizations, which makes for packed calendars and dizzying days, but we also believe this keeps URL Media’s news agenda firmly (grass)rooted. It is from this needed perspective that we plan to continue to disrupt power structures and change the narrative in 2022 and beyond. Thank you for joining us — and keeping on. 

Uplift. Respect. Love. (So much love). 

Sara and Mitra
Co-Founders, URL Media 

 Uplifting our Communities 

The Data Behind NYC Fires: In the wake of a deadly apartment complex fire in New York City, Documented examines why devastating blazes seem to happen more often in Black and Brown neighborhoods. By digging deep into available data from the city's fire department, Documented uncovered an alarming trend —in a one-year period communities of color across New York City reported the highest number of fires. Is there a pattern? Advocates say absolutely, and are working to reverse the trend.

Investing in Community: Residents in one Brooklyn, NYC neighborhood will have the opportunity to weigh in, and submit proposals for community and infrastructure improvement projects. The Haitian Times explains how residents in a largely Haitian-American neighborhood can take part in participatory budgeting. From a food kitchen at the intersection of Newkirk and Coney Island avenues to a subway mural at the Parkside Avenue Q train station — the ideas are flooding in and giving residents a chance to be heard. 
 
Building Community through Sports: Futsal is a smaller, faster version of soccer. The global game is seeing a boom in the Twin Cities, driven largely by an immigrant player base. Sahan Journal explains the origins of the sport, the appeal, and how the Twin Cities is setting aside funding for two new courts in south Minneapolis, where a recreational scene is booming.

 

Blood Donations Critically Low: The United States is facing one of the worst blood shortages in decades. Since the start of the pandemic in spring 2020, donations have dropped to almost half of what they used to be. Numbers are still low and it has been hard for donations to catch up to pre-pandemic numbers. This past holiday season, the numbers significantly dropped, putting people who desperately need donations at risk. Epicenter NYC zeroes in on the growing concern over dipping blood supplies in New York City and how you can help. 
The History of Black Banks: 
This week, Reality Check's Charles Ellison hosted Timothy Todd, a historian and senior writer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, to discuss his new book, "A Great Moral and Social Force: A History of Black Banks."  Read more about the racial reckoning in the big banks here.  


And in another notable interview, Ellison discussed voting rights reform with Danielle Melfi, executive director of Building Back Together.

 Respecting & Honoring Arts & Culture 

Chronicling Culture: Storytelling is a powerful way to pass down cultural traditions from one generation to the next. Remona Htoo knows this all too well, especially because while growing up she didn't have access to children’s books. Htoo, a refugee from the Karen region of Myanmar, is now trying to change the narrative for her daughter. Sahan Journal profiles this newly published children's book author and how she is creating books showcasing Karen cultural traditions for future generations. 
This week, Epicenter NYC  highlights the work of visual artist Cristián Pietrapiana. Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina Pietrapiana lives and works in New York City. His work explores the vulnerability of human nature as well as personal landscapes.

 Centering Love 

Advocating for Inclusion: A major intersection in the heart of New York City will be renamed for Audre Lorde –the acclaimed Black lesbian feminist, writer and social activist. Epicenter NYC details how a year-long effort to recognize Lorde is finally bearing fruit. 

 What We're Loving This Week From Our Partners 

How I Really Met My Mother: A pandemic. A multi-state road trip. A journey of rediscovery. Veronica Hernandez's first-person account for palabra. this week is a powerful tale of finding and defining home. Hernandez details how a once- in-  -lifetime trip turned into a voyage of reconnecting with her ancestral roots and her Cuban immigrant mother. A must read for those of us grappling with pandemic-induced claustrophobia and finding the silver linings.

Reflecting on MLK: In this archival interview, Walter P. Lomax Jr., M.D. speaks with his daughter, WURD President and CEO Sara Lomax-Reese, about treating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just two months before King's assassination. The interview is a beautiful tribute to King and his visit to Center City, Philadelphia —and a look back at a memorable father-daughter moment. A must listen!

 The URLs on URL 

Valeria Fernandez (L), palabra.'s managing editor, has joined the board of directors of The Fund for Investigative Journalism, an organization committed to sustaining in-depth reporting. Congratulations, Valeria

Mazin Sidahmed (R), Documented's co-executive director, weighs in on the distinction between audience engagement and community engagement, in Nieman Lab's Predictions for Journalism 2022. Sidahmed argues that audience engagement is anchored in analytics while community-driven "...to me, is one-to-one. It's physically or digitally appearing where people are and listening to what they think and incorporating that into your decision-making." For a deeper dive on the revenue imperatives to understanding the difference read the full piece here.

URL Media Events 

URL Media's co-founder Sara Lomax-Reese is headlining Impact Media's Inaugural Conference on January 26th. This ‘first of its kind’ conference will inform, share and debate how Impact Media can grow in the U.K. The conference will highlight best practices from the U.S. and India, with a vision to grow social impact, audiences and income for impact media in the U.K., building sustainable and scalable models, and strengthening civil society across the U.K.  Register here.

 Our Founders 

Sara Lomax-Reese, CEO of WURD Radio, Media entrepreneur of almost 30 years, served as Program Lead for the inaugural Facebook BIPOC Sustainability Accelerator and currently JSK Fellow.
S. Mitra Kalita, former SVP at CNN Digital, current CEO & Publisher at Kalita Mukul Creative Inc., has worked at Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, and has launched brands like Mint and Quartz.

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